Hunting continues to become more popular among women

Photo courtesy of Bekah MylerBekah Myler, 16, of Gaylord, was one of many women celebrating the opening day of firearm deer season. On opening day, she shot this nice 6-point buck with a .30-30 lever action rifle. Photo courtesy of Bekah MylerBekah Myler, 16, of Gaylord, was one of many women celebrating the opening day of firearm deer season. On opening day, she shot this nice 6-point buck with a .30-30 lever action rifle.
by Mark Johnson for Gaylord HeraldTimes.com
NORTHERN MICHIGAN — Hunter's orange and camouflage have been a popular fashion statement throughout Northern Michigan the past few weeks with thousands of hunters taking part in firearm deer season.
In towns throughout the state, hunters brought their trophy bucks to show off at buck poles, telling their hunting buddies and anyone willing to listen stories of the events leading up to the moment when they pulled the trigger.

Women are increasingly becoming a part of these conversations and events as more females of all ages are participating in what was once a male-dominated sport.

Bekah Myler, 16, a junior at St. Mary Cathedral School, shot her second deer and first buck on opening day, a nice 6-point.

She went out to her box blind around 5:30 a.m. with hopes of bringing home a trophy buck.

After waiting for a buck to come in for several hours, she fell asleep. But when she woke up, around 11 a.m., she opened her eyes to find the buck standing several yards away from her blind.

“I was really nervous,” she said. “My adrenaline was going crazy.”

As she became fully awake, she reached for her .30-30 lever-action rifle, took aim and fired.

It was a clean hit.

“I knew I hit him,” Myler said. “He ran about 30 feet, then I saw him drop.”
Image courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural ResourcesSince 1960, the percentage of female deer hunters has slowly increased, with the highest percentage coming in 2013 at just under 11 percent. Though the 2013 percentage set the record for highest percent of female deer hunters, it was well below the 2013 male deer hunting percentage of approximately 89 percent. Numbers in the graph are based on historical DNR survey information found at www.michigan.gov/dnr. Some years did not have information immediately available. Image courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural ResourcesSince 1960, the percentage of female deer hunters has slowly increased, with the highest percentage coming in 2013 at just under 11 percent. Though the 2013 percentage set the record for highest percent of female deer hunters, it was well below the 2013 male deer hunting percentage of approximately 89 percent. Numbers in the graph are based on historical DNR survey information found at www.michigan.gov/dnr. Some years did not have information immediately available.

Myler said she has been hunting for several years now, going out with her father, brothers and cousins for every deer season.

Every year, everyone comes up for deer camp at the family cabin and hunt on opening morning, something Myler looks forward to every year.

“I love being outside,” she said. “It is relaxing and peaceful, and it is really nice to be able to spend time with my dad and family.”

Technology adds to the excitement as her dad, brothers and cousins all bring their phones and text each other the latest news regarding deer they had seen or heard.

When Myler's father, brothers and cousins heard about her buck, everyone rushed to congratulate her.

“They were all really excited for me,” she said. “It was really cool to see my dad and brothers gets so excited.”

Breaking barriers

Myler grew up in the hunting tradition and was welcomed into the sport by her family. For other women, it is not as easy.

Historically, hunting has been a tradition for men. The number of female hunters, however, has increased as it has become socially acceptable for women to hunt.

According to statistics provided by the Department of Natural Resources, since 1960, the number of female deer hunters has slowly increased.

These statistics indicate the smallest number of female deer hunters was recorded in 1971, when just under 5 percent of licensed deer hunters were women, but over the past 40 years, this percentage has steadily increased, though it still remains low compared to the percentage of male hunters.

Last year saw the largest percentage of female deer hunters since 1960, setting a record at approximately 11 percent, still way below the percentage of male hunters at about 89 percent.

Though numbers are increasing, many women still remain hesitant to try out the sport. However, thanks to various initiatives and programs, women wishing to try their hand at activities like deer hunting are being encouraged to do so.

"Big Boys Adventures," a local TV show featuring Jada Johnson and her father, Kevin, going on hunting
Photo courtesy of Big Boys Adventures Jada Johnson has been hunting since she was 10 years old and has been participating in outreach programs aimed at getting more women involved in hunting for a long time. Last Friday, she harvested this enormous buck in Alberta, Canada. Photo courtesy of Big Boys Adventures Jada Johnson has been hunting since she was 10 years old and has been participating in outreach programs aimed at getting more women involved in hunting for a long time. Last Friday, she harvested this enormous buck in Alberta, Canada.
trips in pursuit of some of the largest animals in the world, hosts events throughout the year focused on teaching women the basics of hunting and encouraging them to participate in the sport.

As a result of these camps and events, Jada Johnson said she has heard back from women who attended their camps and who proudly don their hunting suits and head to their blinds every hunting season, thanks to the encouragement and training they received from the camps and events.

“Not all women are brave enough to do it themselves, sometimes they need a little push,” she said. “If we can give them that push and introduce them to hunting, it helps tremendously.”
 
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